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Haibun - the Japanese essay

Haibun, a prose form inspired by haiku, that is a unique blend of poetry and prose, begins in the everyday events of the author's life: finding a perfect balance of words and meaning. The form stresses a certain conciseness of expression, but uses full prose sentences. It is used, for instance, for travel writings which include numerous references to natural scenes and contain good descriptive material. Also it is used as a journal form to focus on place, daily events, people one knows or meets. Haibun includes a number of haiku poems strewn throughout the text. The reader grasps the meaning of the haibun, and then of the haiku, and goes on to discover the undercurrents of meaning common to both.

Seriousness, beauty, imagism, objectiveness, density of image/event/experience or a light touch (amusing) are some of the moods which may be incorporated in a haibun.

Write haibun. Read the haibun of Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, Charles Baudelaire, Stéphane Mallarmé, and Jack Kerouac along with haibun by current writers at the international level. Try travel-writing haibun, journal-writing haibun, still-life haibun, essay haibun, and haiku.

For Kerouac, each haibun was a journey, a reflection on the world around us. The haiku, like a roadside signpost, guides you on the journey, providing a moment of clarity and contemplation.

The haibun form especially resonated with Kerouac because it's all about capturing the essence of a moment, of a place, a feeling. The short piece of writing sets the scene, provides context and background, and then the haiku, like a snapshot, captures the essence of the moment in a few simple words.

For Kerouac, the haibun was the ultimate form of writing on the road. It's the perfect way to capture the feelings and emotions that come with wandering, the perfect way to reflect on the beauty and the madness of the world. It's a way to find meaning in the chaos and to understand the world around us.

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